Ep 108

Studio owner's advice on getting hired and starting an animation studio

with Flow Creative

About this episode

Flow Creative is an award-winning animation and branding studio based in Manchester, UK.
In this episode, Karl Doran, owner and founder, shares his insights into running Flow Creative, along with key points on his journey from freelancer to studio owner.
In this episode, you’ll learn:
  • How to start an animation studio
  • The difference between freelancer and studio owner
  • How to get clients as a studio
  • How freelancers can get hired by studios
  • Transitioning from a creative to a management role
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[00:00:00] Karl: If you write down a business plan or you want to write down a marketing strategy and a business strategy, then that’s useful to do for yourself, but you don’t need to do that. You don’t, you know, it’s not essential, but as long as you’ve got it clear in your own head what you’re doing and why you’re doing it, I think that’s useful.

[00:00:14] Hayley: That’s Karl Doran. He’s the founder of Flow Creative, an animation studio based in Manchester. He went from being a freelance animator to a studio owner with more than 10 in house staff and a physical studio space. In this episode, you’re going to learn the best thing that freelancers can do to get hired by studios.

[00:00:33] Karl: I always say to people getting in touch with studios, just keep your email short.

[00:00:37] Hayley: What it’s like to transition from a creative to a management role.

[00:00:40] Karl: A lot of us got into this area because we enjoyed the work, because we’re designers or animators or creatives and So to then not really be on the tools, hands on working on projects does feel a bit weird for a while.

[00:00:52] Hayley: How finding clients can change when you start a studio.

[00:00:55] Karl: The longer I freelanced, I just got more word of mouth recommendations and referrals and things like that. And that’s not the case when you start a studio.

[00:01:04] Hayley: And the biggest mistake people make when hiring others. I

[00:01:07] Karl: guess maybe some studios might hire at a very senior level early on and then they’ve got this big salary cost.

to deal with.

[00:01:14] Hayley: We filmed this episode last year with Carl and we split it up into smaller YouTube videos. And so now the podcast is back. I wanted to share this full episode with you. I hope you enjoy it. So can you tell us about your journey from a freelancer to a studio owner?

[00:01:29] Karl: Yeah. So I guess my journey is a bit different probably from most and a bit of a long and winding road, which I won’t tell you all of, but I’d kind of started a marketing company by accident almost when I was 21.

Ended up running that for about seven years. So I’ve had a bit of a life assessing moment and thought, I don’t want to be doing this for the rest of my life. I kind of wanted to do something more creative and interesting. So then went back to uni at 28, I think, or 29, and ended up picking a motion design course.

Did that, then ended up doing a three year. degree in animation, then freelanced for a couple of years, um, and then worked in house at a studio for a couple of years, um, and then started Flow. Yeah, there was kind of multiple reasons why I started the company, partly doing more interesting creative projects, partly having more control of my time so I could see the kids a bit more while they were young, um, and partly just trying to create an environment that I wanted to work in, that was the kind of studio that I wanted to work at myself.

Um, so that’s kind of the, the reasons, and then how it kind of happened. Um, I had a, I had a freelance gig with the BBC, which was for BBC Sports and BBC Three, and we were creating weekly videos for them, or I was at the time on my own. So I kind of had this regular income coming in from the BBC and regular work, which was at least kind of three, four videos a month.

Uh, that I was making for them, for their social channels. It seemed like a good time to make the switch, because I had this regular work coming in, so I had this a little bit of a financial buffer, had some money in the bank, and the contract lasted for another 12 months, so I knew that I had this comfortable position of knowing that work was coming in for at least another year.

So that was part of it. And I guess also, I kind of started to get, as I had this regular booking, there was at least two or three days a week, um, every week, and I was starting to get other offers of work from elsewhere. There might be a two week booking or a three week booking or a month, and I couldn’t do those because I had this commitment to the BBC contract.

So I would try and take those jobs as well and just manage them, bring in freelancers to help. I would be the, the contact managing the project with the client, uh, but I would get freelancers in to come and do the work with me or instead of me. So when I actually started the studio, I’d already kind of been managing a small group of freelancers for about six months and I had regular work coming in.

So I felt kind of fairly financially secure. Yeah. So it just seemed like a good time to, to get a studio and start trying to win more work as a, as a studio.

[00:03:56] Hayley: If someone’s watching this, how can they prepare themselves if they want to build their own studio? Is there anything they can do like beforehand to kind of make it easier?

[00:04:06] Karl: I think it’s one of those things there’s, there’s never a perfect time to do it. There’s always going to be reasons not to do it. And I think you just have to be really committed to the idea to begin with. And also you have to really think about why you’re doing it. What’s the, what’s What’s the problem that you’re trying to solve?

Is it that you’re not happy freelancing? Is it that you’re not working on the kind of projects and with the kind of clients that you want to be working on? And if that’s the case, or maybe it’s financial, maybe you’re not getting enough money freelancing. Maybe you feel like there’s, you have more to offer as a producer.

Or creative director or art director than you do animating. Um, so there’s a lot of different kind of questions I think you need to ask yourself first of all. Um, and then once you’ve done that and if it still makes sense to, to start a studio rather than work freelance, ideally you need a little bit of a financial buffer.

You need some money in the bank that you can keep you going for six months maybe would be good if you could. So enough money in the bank to cover your rent and bills and living costs just in case you don’t get enough work. These days, especially, you can start a studio quite cheaply. The actual setup costs are minimal and you can set up a website fairly cheaply.

Um, and then you can work from home. You don’t have to get a studio space anymore. When I started Flow, I felt like we needed a space. Um, it just felt like. We needed a kind of studio space to bring freelancers in to help with projects because there wasn’t that much remote working at the time. Um, and also there wasn’t that many co working spaces at the time.

This was 2016, um, which now there’s loads of, and they’re quite cheap and they’re quite flexible. So if I started a studio now, I would probably use one of these co working spaces. But yeah, I mean, apart from having a bit of a financial buffer. And having a plan, thinking about what you want to do, how you’re going to win work, what kind of projects you want to win, um, and having a really clear reason as to why you, why you’re doing it.

If you write down a business plan or you want to write down a marketing strategy and a business strategy, then that’s useful to do for yourself, but you don’t need to do that. You know, you know, it’s not essential, but as long as you’ve got it clear in your own head what you’re doing and why you’re doing it, I think that’s useful.

[00:06:01] Hayley: I was going to ask you about what it was like going from A more creative role to more of a management role. And did that cause an issue for you? Because I think a lot of people, when they want to start a studio, they don’t really think about that side of things.

[00:06:16] Karl: It is a challenge because you, you go from being an animator, full time motion designer, working on projects, sometimes doing design work, sometimes doing illustration work, or that’s what I was doing, um, to.

Mostly managing projects and other people are doing that creative work. Um, and that is a bit of a challenge because a lot of us got into this area because we enjoyed the work because we’re designers or animators or creatives. And so to then not really be on the tools, hands on working on projects does feel a bit weird for a while, but you do kind of get used to it over time.

And as long as what you replace that with is something that you want to be doing, then I think it’s okay. And for me, I kind of. Still worked on the tools when flow was new for a number of years, but I’ve gradually, as we’ve employed more people do less and less actual animation work, but we’ve hired some really good people that do that now.

So I feel quite confident and safe that the work is still good. And it’s, you know, it’s, it’s being done to the standard that. that I’m happy with. But also I think that I’m good at the preliminary stages of projects, the concept stages of projects. And I think I’m good at kind of ideas creation and thinking about art direction and creative concepts and that kind of thing.

So, so I think that what I’m now doing as creative director, I think suits me, suits my kind of brain and how my brain works.

[00:07:33] Hayley: Do you feel like you intentionally almost made a list of like, Oh, these are the things I like doing. These are things I don’t like doing or that you think that you couldn’t do and you want to tell someone else to do.

[00:07:45] Karl: Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. I think I, I did have to think about what are my strengths at the start? What am I good at? Um, and I think it’s partly, um, winning new projects and talking to clients and making sure they’re happy and they have a good relationship working with flow, but not really from a, nuts and bolts kind of management, uh, production plans and schedules point of view.

Um, so I do quite like to stay in touch with clients and make sure they enjoy working with us and they have a good time and they’re happy with the process and, and everything, but I’m just not the right person to, to be super organized and be all over the detail of projects. Uh, but yeah, I kind of, you sort of backfill at the start.

When you first start a studio, you kind of do everything. You see, you wear multiple hats and you do lots of different things. Um, and then you gradually hire people to do roles that then you can hand over. Um, so the first person that we hired was a junior motion designer who was fresh out of uni. Um, and didn’t have a lot of experience, but had some good skills and had some good ideas and was really keen.

And so he helped me. To do some animation on projects and we worked together for a couple of years. And then as he got better, he took more of that and I did less. And then we hired another animator and then they did some as well. And then I did a little bit less. And then I started just doing more of a art direction and creative direction on projects.

But still managing. Managing them as well, doing the producer role. And then we hired a producer, so I was able to do less of that, um, but still do the creative direction. Cause also at the same time, you’re trying to run a business and there’s lots of things you have to do for that. So kind of the, the finance side, the kind of HR side, and that gets more demanding as the team grows.

Thinking about the strategy and the kind of business plan and what you want to be doing. Um, marketing and PR, that’s all kind of. Falls to the business owner as well. Yeah, I never had a point where I thought, Oh, this is great. I don’t have anything to do. And whenever we hired people, I thought that there always seemed to be more and more that I needed to do as well.

So I kind of, we hired producers, animators, studio managers, and they all had lots to do and they took stuff off my plate, but other things just filled my plate. Um, so it wasn’t like I kind of suddenly had loads of time on my hands.

[00:09:50] Hayley: Yeah, so how did you know kind of when was the right time? You’d, it sounds like you’d hired a lot of freelancers before that.

[00:09:57] Karl: Yeah, we’d use loads of freelancers on projects, but only for individual projects. So a week here, a few days there, two weeks there. So it was all very much dependent on the project just to get that one project delivered. It just seemed like we were still doing that at the same time, but it just felt like we needed another full time set of hands in the studio.

And Jordan was only recently graduated, but had already done some really nice work in his, in his student time, was really keen. He kind of emailed several times, um, actually to get in. And then he ended up calling on the phone and was asking, like, can I come in for an internship? And, and it was partly kind of his keenness that just convinced me that, that, that.

Let’s go for it. He seems good. And he was, it was great. You know, it was really useful to have someone else. And, and he was, became a kind of bit of a protege for me where I kind of trained him a little bit and taught him how to do different things in After Effects and Cinema 4D and yeah, it was the first kind of full time member of staff.

[00:10:46] Hayley: Yeah. When you hire someone, what qualities do you look for? And also, is there any sort of. red flags or anything like that? Because you talked about Jordan and his obviously enthusiasm, but what other things do you look out for?

[00:10:59] Karl: Yeah, I think enthusiasm is a big plus. If you, if someone’s really keen and they like the work you do and they want to do some fun, creative, interesting work, they’ve got to care about it, you know, to do a good job and that’s the main thing, but then also depending on the role, if it, if it’s a character animation role, then obviously they need to do that a little bit.

If it’s more of a motion generalist kind of role, then we just look at their show reeling. They’ve got to be at a decent standard for us to hire them. Um, but then also Just someone that seems like a good culture fit as well is really important. So someone that feels like they would get on well with the team and get on well with our clients for when we have client calls and things like that, that’s important too.

So there’s several different things that you kind of weigh in on.

[00:11:37] Hayley: Is there anything, you know, when people reach out to you on email, it’s quite hard to know what they’re going to be like, really. Is there anything you sort of try and look for?

[00:11:46] Karl: I guess it’s a lot of it is instinct, isn’t it? In these situations, it’s someone that feels like you would get on with them and they seem like a nice person.

They’d be good to work with. But I always say to people getting in touch with studios, just keep your email short, just send your work, say a little bit about yourself, maybe if you want to, about what you’re interested in, um, things like that. But don’t worry about sending a massive essay with your whole life history.

We don’t need that. We just need to know what kind of stuff you like doing. Some examples of your work, your most recent and your best work, ideally. Um, and just a little bit about yourself and that’s all you need to do. And then if you are getting in touch with an agency, make sure your work is easy to find.

Don’t like just send a attachment with a CV on that’s got a link embedded somewhere at the bottom. You know, put your link in the email, make sure if it’s your Instagram that it’s up to date, it’s got your best work on. It’s not got loads of old students to offer. It’s just. The kind of work that you want to be getting, you know, just saying you’re most relevant, most up to date, best work.

[00:12:40] Hayley: Do you look for things in the email? Like, so you can see that they’ve done a bit of research about your studio or something. So, you know, it’s not just like they’ve just sent like a hundred emails that day.

[00:12:52] Karl: Yeah. Sometimes you get ones that look like a copy and paste job, uh, and you can kind of tell, um, that that’s what they’ve done.

And that does put you off a little bit, to be honest. Uh, and sometimes you get ones where they’ll put the wrong name. So they forget to change the name. So I’ve had like, dear Greg, um, I’d love to work with you. So, yeah, that, that is a bit off putting when people do that. But at the same time, I kind of understand that, of course, they’re going to be contacting loads of agencies and I don’t really hold that against them.

You know, if, if they send the same email, as long as it’s a nice email to lots of different studios, I don’t really mind that much. Um, but if they do say something personal in there, like, um, I really loved that particular project of yours. I loved that video you did for Motion Hatch, say, which lots of people say.

Um, then that’s kind of, it shows at least they’ve looked at our work, uh, and they’ve thought about it a little bit and they know who they’re contacting. So yeah, try and personalize it a little bit.

[00:13:43] Hayley: Yeah. So how do you kind of help to create the company culture, I guess? Is there anything specific you do on that front?

[00:13:50] Karl: Yeah, I think it’s lots of small things. I think there’s kind of company culture is a bit of a kind of buzzword at the moment. And people think there’s a kind of quick fix or something you can just apply to make that happen. But I don’t think that’s how it works. I think it’s lots of little things. I’m just making sure that Everyone’s got autonomy in their role, I think is really important, making sure they understand what’s required of them and they get what their role is and what they need to do, making sure they also know that they’ve got enough freedom to, to try things and experiment.

Um, so you know, kind of micromanage them too much. Uh, but I think apart from that, it’s just been a nice place to work. So having a kind of relaxed, creative environment, um, doing regular trips, um, and doing regular kind of team activities, I think is really important as well. We have a kind of good work life balance.

And we’ve always kind of thought about the team’s well being and mental health. So we’ve never done long hours. We’ve never worked late into the evening. We’ve never kind of done weekend work and things like that.

[00:14:45] Hayley: Is that difficult sometimes with a client demands?

[00:14:49] Karl: Yeah, it can be. There have been times where we’ve, we’ve had to stay a little bit late to finish things.

But to be honest, it doesn’t, if you manage projects well, it doesn’t come up that often. So we don’t, we don’t tend to have a lot of them. And I think it’s partly being clear with clients at the start. The clients have clear milestones, so they know what they’re going to get when, they know when we need feedback from them, when they’re kind of, uh, when they need sign off for different stages of a project.

So we’re quite clear about that at the start. We do a kind of statement of work, um, that covers all the deliverables, The key dates and kind of milestones within the project. Um, and it also sets out our working practices and how we like to work with clients as well. Um, so I think doing that at the start really helps and setting those expectations with clients and then just managing the project well as it goes along means there isn’t crazy kind of.

changes at the end of a project, uh, where we then have to work crazy hours to make sure those things get done. Um, and there’s different sign off points along the way where we’ve, we’ve had the, the creative style signed off, we’ve had the storyboard signed off, the script signed off, you know, the full artwork signed off.

Um, so it’s kind of, by the time you get to the end, there isn’t that many surprises for the client. So as long as you do that really well, thoroughly. throughout the project, then it tends to kind of run to schedule pretty well.

[00:16:01] Hayley: Is the way that you’ve acquired clients changed from when you started as a freelancer to being a studio owner?

[00:16:07] Karl: Yeah, I guess so. I think when I was freelancing, as I, the longer I freelanced, I built up a network of contacts. So I kind of had regular studios that would come back for more. I think that I didn’t really do that much to kind of win. Win that work. I mean, I used to send my showreel out and send a portfolio out to agencies and just say, let me know if you need anything.

And that got me some work, but then the longer I freelanced, I just got more word of mouth recommendations and referrals and things like that. And that’s not the case when you start a studio. So you kind of have to start again, really. So, yeah, we have recently hired a business development manager as well.

Jamie or a partnerships manager, we call him. Part of his responsibility is to, um, contact new clients, contact new organizations that we want to work with and win new work and also build relationships and partnerships with existing clients. Me and Jamie have sat down and put together a kind of list of, um, target clients that we want to work with and the kind of organizations that we want to work with.

So that’s been really useful to have that kind of, strategic plan about who we want to work with going forward and have someone who’s on that all the time, making sure they’re reaching out to good organizations that we want to, uh, we want to do some work with.

[00:17:16] Hayley: If I wanted to hire someone like Jamie to do business development or something like that for my studio, how would you recommend that I go about that?

[00:17:23] Karl: Yeah, it’s a tricky one because you’ve got to get someone who’s. A good culture fit for your studio, um, and kind of gets the kind of work you do and is ideally interested in that. He’s not just purely a salesperson, but enjoys the creative work that we do and enjoy seeing those kinds of projects come to life.

For us, it was important to find someone who Who could help to build that kind of partnership, um, side of the work we do and help to grow long term relationships with clients.

[00:17:49] Hayley: So when a client project comes in, how do you manage the capacity of the studio and how do you know when the right time to hire freelancers is?

[00:17:56] Karl: I guess. Yeah, we, we have a kind of studio schedule that has all the projects in, um, and that sort of. shows who’s working on what and when within our team. So that’s kind of the overall sort of master plan, the weekly kind of schedule of what everyone’s working on, when the deadlines are. So we’re kind of able to see fairly quickly what our team are on and where there’s any gaps where they could help with additional stuff potentially.

Um, and we can also see the kind of bottlenecks in projects and where it’s going to get really busy or if there’s two or three deadlines close together. Um, and sometimes it is a case of if the capacity in the team can’t handle that amount of work in that time available, you have to reach out to freelancers.

Um, we have a kind of network of freelancers that we use that we’ve got regular freelancers that we work with, um, that are good motion people that do similar work to what we do, but then there’s also specific skills that we might bring in as well. Um, so it might be 3d kind of character rigging and animation skills, or it might be something specific like storyboarding or, um, sound design

[00:18:54] Hayley: Yeah, that’s interesting.

I didn’t really think of that. So maybe if you’re a freelancer and you’re looking at studios, it doesn’t really necessarily matter if they don’t do exactly what you do, maybe they’ll need that for a project in the future.

[00:19:06] Karl: Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. I think if there’s, if there’s one thing that you do really well and you enjoy doing that, and they definitely contact, you know, agencies and let them know that, and, and it might be that we don’t need anything at the moment, but in six months time, we might have a project that comes in that’s a perfect fit for your skills and experience.

Also, like. Don’t be put off if you get a, you get a kind of just a really short response or even sometimes studios don’t respond, uh, because sometimes you’re absolutely hectic. I mean, I always do try and respond to anyone that gets in touch, but sometimes when it’s crazy busy week, one might slip through the net that you don’t get back to, but don’t be put off by that.

I don’t think they’ve seen you work and thought, Oh, they don’t like it. You know, get in touch again in, in a few months, or if you’re doing a project you’re proud of, send a link, you know, there’s no harm in doing that.

[00:19:50] Hayley: Yeah, so how do you decide what a fair rate is really? Because it’s easy normally we talk from to the freelancers about like, Oh, you should be charging this and that.

But then I’d love to hear from a studio owner perspective, like how you feel like that negotiation normally goes. And

[00:20:06] Karl: yeah,

[00:20:08] Hayley: yeah,

[00:20:08] Karl: I think it’s, it’s typical. I think you see sometimes advice to freelancers saying, um, this is what you need to be charging for your rates. You need to be, uh, you know, don’t accept anything less than that.

But for us, we do get some projects in sometimes where some freelancers that we work with, the rates are just preemptive for those projects because the budgets are super tight. Um, so we just can’t afford to use some people on some projects. And if there’s projects with a little bit more budget and we budget and we want certain people that I’ve got specific skills on that.

Then it’s worth paying a bit more sometimes, but there’s a huge range. I mean, freelancers is kind of up to them to set their own rates to an extent and let us know what that is. Uh, but if we, if we can, if we can’t afford that, that day rate or that project fee for a particular budget, we’ll just let them know.

And if they want to adjust that rate and, you know, offer to do it for less they can do, but if they don’t, that’s absolutely fine as well. There’s lots of different freelancers that we use that are at different stages of their career as well. So sometimes we’ll work with a freelancer that’s got 20 years experience, um, who is charging a lot more than someone who’s graduated last year, we’ll just pick someone that’s at the experience level has got the right skills and fits within the budget for that project.

Um, so there’s a lot of kind of variables, but sometimes we do work with very experienced freelancers. That I’ve got high rates because we really want this project to have a certain look, or we really want it to be super quality. Um, because it’s a big budget project, big client, we want it to go amazing.

Sometimes we have projects that we obviously still want it to look amazing, but you can use people that are a bit less experienced and don’t have the same high rates.

[00:21:43] Hayley: So it’s just basically on more of a project by project basis, trying to judge it. at the time of what you need really.

[00:21:49] Karl: Well, it is for us.

Yeah. I don’t know if it’s the same at other studios, but for us, it, it depends on the client and the budget that they’ve got available to spend how much we can do internally in our team. And if there is any specific skills that we need, so it’s just worth, I guess, working out what your level of experience is as a freelancer and then working out.

what you can reasonably charge based on that, um, and then just tell agencies and if they can afford you, they’ll, they’ll let you know and use you if they can’t, they’ll let you know. I mean, I suppose sometimes studios might ghost freelancers if they’re, if they can’t afford them. We don’t do that. We always let them know, um, if we want to work with them or not and the reasons why we, We can or can’t work with them.

[00:22:28] Hayley: So you think it’s worth following up though with people, if they don’t get back to you? Because I think sometimes people are scared and they think, Oh, it’s because my rate was too high or whatever. But maybe you just missed that email or

[00:22:39] Karl: Well, absolutely. Yeah. If someone, if a studio doesn’t get back to you, you’re talking to them about a project and it doesn’t end up happening.

Yeah, definitely email and ask why. And maybe it’s something specific. Like they were, they were talking to someone else who’s specific skillset suited that project better. Uh, maybe it’s availability. Maybe it’s, um, the, the timeline that the project needed to be complete. Maybe it’s down to budget and their rates.

There could be lots of different reasons. Uh, but ideally the studio will let you know the reason why they are or aren’t booking you. But if they don’t, yeah, definitely follow up and ask.

[00:23:11] Hayley: So when you’re hiring, um, your first employee or maybe your first freelancer as a creative person, what do you think is the biggest mistake that people make?

[00:23:20] Karl: I know that we hired at a fairly junior level for a while. And that was partly because we didn’t have loads of money at the time, but also because we wanted someone, um, that we could train up with, that I could train up and kind of get them working the way I kind of worked as a, as a motion designer. So it worked for us quite well.

And then we hired someone a little bit more experienced as a kind of production manager. And then that was useful to have someone who’d been doing that at least a few years. So they knew what they were doing. And then we hired another animator that was a little bit more experienced. So I think for us, we’ve kind of gradually hired more experienced people as we’ve gone along, partly because they were the right fit at the time for what we needed, but also partly because when you start out, we don’t have a lot of money and you have to hire.

The best you can for what you can afford at the time. So in terms of mistakes, I guess maybe some studios might hire a very senior level early on. Um, and then they’ve got this big, um, salary cost, um, to deal with, but that probably works for some agencies as well. It depends on the kind of work you do. Um, so some kind of brand agencies might start with the owner and creative director and then they hire a brand strategist, um, who’s a very experienced senior person on a high salary.

But if that’s integral to their work, they do. Okay. Then that’s what they need to do. But for us, I was kind of doing the strategy, doing the creative direction. So we just needed help doing the animation and managing projects.

[00:24:33] Hayley: So what was the most difficult thing about starting a studio?

[00:24:36] Karl: The most difficult thing is probably the risk, the kind of financial risk and the responsibility.

When you, especially when you start hiring and the team grows a little bit, it’s a lot of responsibility on your shoulders as the kind of business the person in charge of the business plan and strategy. Ultimately, it’s you that’s kind of responsible for making sure everyone’s mortgages are paid at the end of the month and making sure everybody gets fed.

But the other thing as well is that making sure the team are happy, I think is really important as, as you hire and the team grows making sure they’re all doing the kind of work they want to be doing. So I hear a lot of studios talking about the challenges of recruiting and hiring good people. And I think that’s never really been a big challenge for us.

I think we’ve always done quite well with recruiting. I think because we do work that people want to be working on, uh, we do kind of interesting. Uh, creative projects with quirky characters and there’s a lot of kind of fun and humor in the work that we do. So I think that motion designers and animators and illustrators That follow us on socials whenever we put a job call out We get a lot of people get in touch.

So we seem to find it quite easy to recruit We’ve never used the recruiter. We’ve never paid a lot of money to recruit I think because people want to do the kind of projects that we do They want to work on the kind of stuff that we do. And I can relate to that because when I was a freelance motion designer before Flow, I was working on boring corporate projects a lot of the time.

And, um, I would have loved to work at a studio like Flow, um, doing those kinds of projects.

[00:25:56] Hayley: Can you tell me one project that the studio has done that you’re the most proud of?

[00:26:00] Karl: I think one that stands out for me is, um, the first Children Who Need. commercial that we did. Um, so I think it was in 2020, we did an animated TV commercial for BBC Children in Need, and that was just a really nice project to work on.

It was for a great client. We got to work with BBC Creative, the BBC’s internal creative agency, and we got to work directly with Children in Need as well, and lots of the partner charities that they, they support. So we just got to just do something that we felt was really helping, do some good in the world, um, and helping to, to kind of promote the children who need fundraising night and help to drive donations for the night as well.

Um, which was great. And I think he ended up raising about 40 million for the charity, which was probably not wholly down to us, but we contributed to at least. And eventually it was, um, broadcast on TV, which was quite nice to see as well. And it was, um, in a cinema. Um, campaign and the run up to the fundraising night as well.

[00:26:58] Hayley: Yeah, that sounds like a great project. So if you could go back in time and tell freelancer Cole anything, what would you tell him?

[00:27:05] Karl: That’s a tough one. I guess I would say just, just kind of think about why you want to do it, why you want to. Um, start a business in the first place and, and what you want to try and get out of that.

And is it, is it personal reasons because you want more time, you want more control of the kind of projects that you’re working on, or is it that you’re trying to grow something, you want to grow a business over time? And if so, what, what’s the point of that? Why do you want to do that? Um, who we do our best work for?

That was an interesting question. After a few years, we kind of asked ourselves, looking back on the last four years, Who have we done our best work for? Um, and why is that, you know, for us, it was, um, charities and NGOs. And, uh, and we realized that because we’re particularly invested in those projects, we want them to do well because the charities are doing amazing work that we want to support, then we would kind of over deliver and we would really make sure we did an amazing job for them.

So that’s kind of part of our, our new brand positioning now that we try and do work that just does some good in the world. And we, we kind of set ourselves up as being for. those organizations that, that want to try and have a positive impact. That’s helped us to kind of have more of a focus as a business.

[00:28:13] Hayley: Yeah, that’s really great. Well, thanks so much for joining me, Carl. I really appreciate it. No problem. Thank you. Thanks so much for listening all the way to the end. I really appreciate it. I really want this podcast to get out there to more motion designers. And one way you can help us do that is to go and leave us a rating and wherever you get your podcasts.

So you can go to motionhatch. com forward slash rate to rate and review this podcast. I really, really appreciate it. Thanks so much for listening all the way to the end. I hope you have a wonderful day. See ya.


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